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Confessions of a Former Homeschool Mom

Updated on August 16, 2015
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.

Cooking and Chemistry go together

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My Reasons

Homeschooling is still a bit controversial today but was really frowned on it when I pulled my 4 children out of public school. I had a lot of reasons. One of my children was not learning but being passed onto the next grade year after year. By the fifth grade she still could not read beyond a first grade level. The oldest girl and my son were being bullied at school and the teachers and principal were doing nothing about it. The middle girl was acting up and her teacher was having trouble interacting with her. All these reasons and more made me want to find another solution for my children’s education but I didn’t really want to homeschool. I knew that was going to be a lot of work on me and I wasn’t even sure I LIKED my children that much. They would come home from public school each day and immediately begin fighting and snipping at each other. I felt like a referee more than a mother.

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Creation of a paper mache whale.

We had time to volunteer for things like making this paper mache whale for the Jonah exhibit at church.
We had time to volunteer for things like making this paper mache whale for the Jonah exhibit at church. | Source
We had time for costumes. dress up and goofing around.
We had time for costumes. dress up and goofing around. | Source

Why I Loved it.

We couldn’t really afford private school but I didn’t want to be responsible for their education myself. After a prayerful summer wondering what I was going to do that fall, I was left with only one option beyond public school: homeschool. I remember telling my husband that I would give it a try for one year and if I didn’t like it, back to public school they were going to go. Little did I know that I would LOVE it. Here is what I learned:

1. They are cute.

Who knew they were actually cute when they were studious. I LOVED seeing the light go on in their eyes when they “got it”. It was more exciting for me than I ever would have imagined.

2. They get along better.

They began getting along better almost immediately. We took a break in the mornings and they would pair off, challenging each other to a game of chess. I thought for sure the body snatchers had arrived and substituted my children for these wonderful people. I just hoped the mother ship wasn’t returning anytime soon.

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3. Correcting wrongs.

I was able to find deficiencies in their education that I was totally unaware of before. Not once in any parent-teacher conferences did they clue me in that my oldest daughter was 2 years behind in math. And I did see that the youngest was a little behind in reading but I wasn’t aware of how far behind she actually was.

Homeschool fun

Notice the timeline and English sentence structure diagram in the background.  But we had fun too.
Notice the timeline and English sentence structure diagram in the background. But we had fun too. | Source

4. No getting away with skating.

I noticed that sometimes they would try to get away with doing the least amount possible. In creative writing, my son would write a couple of lines and turn it in. I told him I knew he could do better because I’d seen him do better before. He said they accepted it in public school… and that’s when the lights came on for me. They were trying to slide by because they could… but with me they couldn’t because I knew them better. I really like that I was able to squeeze the best out of them. Side Note: that same son has now written several fantasy books for teen boys. Would he have if I hadn’t insisted he give me his best?

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Chemistry in the Kitchen

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5. Learning styles.

I was able to gear the school for each of the children’s best learning style. My son wasn’t able to spell well when I had spelling tests written, but when we had oral spelling bees he excelled. He learned best by hearing. My oldest learned best by seeing and reading, while the youngest was constantly out of her seat and roaming around. She learned best when we got up and did “hands-on” things. She loved science experiments and dissecting specimens.

Homeschool Misconceptions

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College Graduation

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6. Colleges like homeschool students.

When the time came to apply to college, I made some phone calls. I was concerned that my children would be penalized for being homeschooled. What I found out was a revelation. I was told that many colleges and universities prefer homeschooled students because they know how to study and are usually serious about their education; as opposed to public school students who tend to be party animals, going a little wild when finally getting away from Mom and Dad.

Veterinary medicine

We learned about checking dogs ears for foxtails.
We learned about checking dogs ears for foxtails. | Source

7. Learning experiences everywhere.

I found learning experiences everywhere. In the car on the way to appointments, we played alphabet and vocabulary games. In the grocery store I had each of the children calculate what would be cheapest according to volume and often found surprising results. They would scour the isles with calculators in hand finding what we needed for the best price. To practice fraction skills, we would often go to the kitchen and each make ½ or ¼ of a recipe of cookies. They had to figure out what ¼ of 2 ½ cups of flour might be. We watched growing things each spring and even did some experiments with decomposition. We buried paper, cardboard, cloth scraps and Styrofoam to see how fast and what would decompose first. The results were much more interesting than reading about them in some book.

Homeschooling discussed

Really cute people

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8. Wonderful people.

I found that I bonded with each of them in a way that would not have been possible before. I learned more about them, their likes, dislikes and dreams than I imagined possible. Instead of it being a strain, it was a bonding experience. They are wonderful people.

Difficult times.

We had some friends and even family members tell our girls they were being denied socialization by being MADE to stay home. They were talked to as if they were being deprived of something. That was hurtful to me and my children. Later they realized their mistake and apologized.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. You do have to be dedicated to keeping on track as much as possible and studying to keep ahead of the students. I found that the biggest challenge. My kids learned things so quickly that it was a struggle to keep one page or one lesson ahead so I knew what was coming up. If you aren’t dedicated; if you think this will be easy, you are deluding yourself and maybe you shouldn’t consider homeschool.

Horseback riding and babysitting

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So worth the effort.

If you are considering homeschooling or are looking for reinforcements to keep going here are a few things to remember. There will be battles. There will be people who don’t understand and judge you. There may even be people who put thoughts into their ears of how abused and oppressed your children are. Sometimes even family members are unsupportive. But they don’t know how important this is. Protecting them from the abusive, corrosive influences of peers on the playground is more important that any lost socialization. Keeping them pure from the ideas and vulgar talk that goes on at some campuses is key to me.

When things became hard and stressful, I only needed to remind myself that this too will pass. It was only for a season and now they are all grown and raising families of their own. Interestingly they are each homeschooling their children as well. I guess it couldn’t have been the oppressive, controlling environment that the critics say it is if each of them want the same for their children.

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Homeschool Comments Welcomed.

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Emese Fromm,

      I loved your story about your reasons for homeschooling. I've heard of families who travel a lot doing that and it makes perfect sense. I also understand about your daughter learning best in community... we are all different and what works for one won't necessarily work for the next one. I loved community also, the competition of it motivated me to do better. I am glad for her (and you) that she is where she is most motivated but I am also glad you had the bonding time. It is the best, isn't it?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      denise.w.anderson,

      I always thought that too. It seems homeschooled children seem more grounded and less... how should I say it... silly. Not that they aren't childish, because they still are children, but they seem less driven by their peer to do outlandish things. They learn to be their own people without the strength of peer pressure to guide them. It makes a big difference later in college, believe me.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      sallieannluvslife,

      I know what you are saying. My oldest daughter learned an incredible amount that first year. That's the year I found out she was 2 years behind in math and by the end of that first year homeschooling, she had caught up to her grade level. I paid to have them take standardized tests each year and their test scores were really above where they were in public school. I guess one-on-one learning is more valuable than anyone thought before.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dana Tate,

      Interesting that you said that. I felt the same way. My mom said she didn't feel equal to the challenge of being an educator but I beg to differ. She is the most well-read person I know and I think I learned more or at least as much from her as from all my other teachers combined. I wish it had been more fashionable for me back then too. As it was, I got a lot of grief given to me by friends and family for taking charge of my kids education. They felt my kids would become anti-social misfits or something, instead of the well-rounded, highly educated adults they have become.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      PaigSr,

      I hope your wife feels encouraged and enriched by the experience.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Good for you Gayle. It takes a special woman to keep their children home and take on the responsibility of their education. Mine are all doing well also. One has a master's degree in Theology and is pastoring in Indiana with his wife, one is a Game Designer with a BA in Graphic Design, one has a BS in Criminology and is a Police Officer but is going back to school to get her law degree, and one is an RN in Minnesota.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 2 years ago from Kansas

      I've homeschool my two daughters from 3rd and 5th grades. They are now in college and doing well. I would definitely do it all again.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dear Grand old lady, you are so right. I knew a lady who should not have been homeschooling her children because she was basically neglectful and expected the children to do the work without any supervision. She gave homeschooling a bad name. For every 10 homeschools well done, there is at least one that should have never attempted it. Like I said, homeschooling isn't for everyone. You really have to be dedicated to your children and their education or it isn't worth the effort.

      Thanks for visiting,

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      In the Philippines I came to know many children who were homeschooled and they grew up quite well, excelled in college and overall, did fine. There was just one exception, and I think it was because the parent was a troubled person. Homeschool can either bring out the best or the worst in children, depending on the characters of the parents.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Excellent. Glad to be of help.

    • Sulabha profile image

      Sulabha Dhavalikar 2 years ago from Indore, India

      Yes, helpful. Your hub and recent information are both enlightening.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Sulabha, Yes the college did ask for a diploma and board marks as you say. We had to pay to have them take standardized tests. The curriculum can be purchased from so many sources that sometimes it is hard to choose. Of course this means we had to buy the curriculum for each year out of our own pocket instead of getting it free at public school. This was a small price to pay for our peace of mind that the children were safe and not being tempted with drugs or other disagreeable things. With the curriculum, the more you paid for it the less work you had to do yourself. We couldn't afford those pricier ones so I ended up with more work on my hands planning subjects and grade levels. Still it was worth it. In some cases now, there are charter schools where the education mostly happens at home but some of the curriculum can be shared or even paid for by the government. I hope this information helps a little.

      Actually, I hate to be the one to let you down about the US schools, but free isn't always best, and every country has their problems (no one is perfect). In many cases, homeschoolers choose to pull their children out of public school for religious reasons or for overcrowding reasons, when their child isn't getting the specialized attention he or she needs to excell.

    • Sulabha profile image

      Sulabha Dhavalikar 2 years ago from Indore, India

      A thought provoking hub for us in India. Mainly, because in India we have either highly burdened schoolchildren or totally illiterate. Often, while socializing we talk of how good U.S. and other countries are where all children in Government schools -and it is considered something good there. Compared to that in India, every body clamors to put his child in the best private school where the fees is exorbitant. So now I have something to say to my friends.

      But I wish to know how you covered all subjects at home. And that didn't the university ask for school leaving certificate, Board marks etc. ?

      I will be grateful for the information. As parents in India spend a lot on school & tuition fees.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Ologsinquinto, I agree I did a few things wrong too. But we survived as well. Thanks for visiting.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      I've been there, done that, and made a couple of mistakes along the way. But, all in all, I'd probably do it again. My children survived and are doing very well.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Jo, Thank you for the comments. I agree with you that there is a lot of unnecessary disrespect going on these days and the world would be a better place if we could get that in check. Blessings to you.

      Denise

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 2 years ago

      Hello! Good for you! I wish my mother had the time and patience to home school me! I think you are awesome!

      And a true dedicated mom. :-)

      The benefits of home schooling really outweigh the real life unnecessary crap that goes on in regular schools and on the playgrounds. Of course there will always be those naysayers! Gosh, what this world we live in could be if those people didn’t exist? You did the right thing, and apparently your beautiful children agree!

      So, cheers for you!

      Shared, up +++ and it is so nice to meet you. :-)

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dearest Lambservant, I'm so saddened to hear you had someone undermine your efforts in homeschooling. That is just heart breaking and you were right to keep him home since PS wasn't working so well. I pray he is acclimating well in society now. My youngest is like that too. I'm glad I kept her home.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great hub. Your kids are blessed to have a mother who loved (and likes) them enough to homeschool. And I love that you can say you loved it.

      When my older three were young, homeschooling was just beginning and it was a new, uncertain frontier, so I didn't go there. But my youngest was born when they were mostly grown, and homeschooling was well established and I thought it would be fun. And it was, until my husband got a job close to home and quit traveling. He was jealous of my time with my son and interrupted constantly. Then he brought home a puppy without consulting me and that was all she wrote. I could not get my son to focus with the distraction of a puppy and a jealous dad. I managed to stick with it through his kindergarten year but put him in PS the next year. He had special needs and did very very poorly in school in so many ways. When he was in 2nd grade he had to go to a special class where he did not belong. We divorced the following year, but then I had to be a working mom and just couldn't be a good homeschool mom. Fortunately, most people have supportive husbands, or at lease ones who don't try to undermine everything. I am glad to hear you singing the praises of homeschooling.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you AliciaC, I appreciate it. I hope it is helpful to people considering homeschooling their children.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a great hub, PAINTDRIPS. It was very interesting to read about your experience with homeschooling and to learn about its benefits. Your hub should be very useful for people who are considering teaching their children at home.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you all for your encouraging words and thoughts. I did love doing it but I'm also glad that season has passed for me and now it's my kids job to see to the education of their children.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Awesome. You have been able to do it so well with your great determination and boldness over coming all the oddities. You are a great mom. I appreciate you.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Voted up and awesome.

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      EmeseRéka 2 years ago from The Desert

      I have home schooled one of my children, for totally different reasons. As a very dedicated ballet dancer, she was missing too many days of school due to her constant travels and shows. However, she is the type of child who loved school, and excelled in school (when not homeschooling, my kids attended a charter school with very supportive teachers). She had always been on top of her classes, working even a year ahead in some cases. She missed the social aspect of it, too. Also, most importantly, what I learned about her in particular, is that she learns best in a community. She's much happier now, since she returned to school full time. But I enjoyed home schooling her most of the time. Yes, we fought a lot, (I am a very strict teacher), but it was a great bonding experience for us both.

      Great article, thank you for sharing your experience.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Such an encouragement as well as a practical example--the most positive I can remember-- for parents considering homeschooling. Great article!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I have several in-laws who home-school their children, and they are the best kids I've come in contact with. Our children were even jealous of them, and wondered why we didn't home school! Being the wife of a public school administrator, we kept our children in the public school setting. We did, however, spend a lot of time at the school making sure that our children were well-behaved and educated properly!

    • sallieannluvslife profile image

      sallieannluvslife 2 years ago from Eastern Shore

      Very good Hub! I homeschooled my son for two years, 7th and 8th grades, and it was insane how much more he learned by the one-on-one experience compared to the classroom environment. His class had over 30 kids to one teacher and was not good. We moved and found a private school for him for high school and he loves it but even he will tell you that he learned so much more as a homeschooler. Kudos to you for doing what was best for your children!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Kathleen Cochran, I absolutely agree. It isn't for everyone and some children excel in public school so why change that. I don't think I would have taken the challenge on if my kids were doing okay, but the issues demanded I do something. And I'm glad I did.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I applaud you for taking control of your children's education. With the constant bullying and trying to fit in school can be miserable for some children. I for one hated school because of these reasons and wish homeschool was more fashionable when I was growing up.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You are so honest about your reasons to homeschool. I recently read a hub on the subject, and the writer concluded that parents who did not homeschool just didn't want to go to the trouble of doing it.

      This subject, like so many others about parenting, often set parents against each other, as if one way is the right way and anything else is the wrong way. Good parenting is knowing what is best for your individual child. And that is not always easy to know.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 2 years ago from State of Confussion

      Its always nice to find things to encourage the home school crowd. I will be letting the wife know about this. Yes she is the primary teacher in out home.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm actually all for homeschooling, and this is coming from a former teacher. Well done, my friend.